Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Console Post Of The Week: February NPD

Here's a quick look at the numbers again:
360 - 422,000
Wii - 397,900
PS3 - 360,100
PS2 - 101,900

And last year:
Wii --753,000

PS3 sales were up 30% over last year. Again, they were below last year's 360 sales for the same month, which has been the pattern for the last three months.

If that pattern continues, then Sony is looking at sales in 2010 in the U.S. of about 4.5 million units. That would be somewhat of a disaster, really, to have a major price cut just get you within 5% of what the competitor sold in the previous year.

However, we should know soon enough, because two of the biggest games of the year for Sony dropped in March: Final Fantasy XIII and God Of War III. Yes, Final Fantasy wasn't an exclusive, but it's still a huge game in terms of the Playstation, and the God Of War series has basically printed money.

Based on last year's 360 sales, and the PS3s close tracking of those numbers, we would expect PS3 sales in March of about 310,000 units. Those numbers would be catastrophic, and I don't expect them to be that low.

What would be the upper range, though? Well, after the price cut last year, the PS3 sold 491,000 units in September. September and March are both 5-week months for NPD purposes, and they're not holiday season months. So if software pushed the PS3 past the sales they had last year after a major price cut, it would be quite impressive.

What that means is that the disaster range for PS3 sales in March would be 310,000 units. The very impressive number would be 491,000 units or above. In-between, it depends on closeness to the top or bottom of the range, but the mid-point is 400,000 units, and given God Of War's stature as a franchise, if it's below that, it's going to look weak.

If Sony says that they're inventory-limited, well, if company is inventory limited when their biggest game of the year drops, then they're incompetent.

Microsoft appears to be a path that resembles their course the last two years--slightly above for the first two months, but probably still in the range of 4.6-4.8 million units for the year.

I'm not including a bump for Move or Natal because I seriously question whether they're going to provide one. I think Sony and Microsoft may be seriously miscalculating the significance of their motion control products, at least initially.

If Nintendo is smart (sometimes they are, sometimes not so much), they would claim supply shortages all year until Move/Natal are released, then flood the market with so many Wiis, and advertise the $199 price so prominently, that the competitor's motion control solutions would actually drive their own sales.

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